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Leo McCarey was one of the greatest comedy directors during the Classic Hollywood era, helming over one hundred features in his forty year directorial career. Even more, most of the pictures he created were immensely successful with both audiences and critics, helping his films earn three Oscars and thirty six nominations. 
The director was born Thomas Leo McCarey on October 3, 1896 in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the University of Southern California law school, worked in a law firm in San Francisco, and then opened up his own practice in Los Angeles. When his practice failed, McCarey turned to vaudeville and songwriting, which also proved to be fruitless. However, one of his friends introduced him to Tod Browning, who subsequently gave him a job as his assistant director at Universal Pictures.
After working on films like “The Virgin of Stamboul” (1920) and “No Woman Knows” (1921), he was given the chance to direct his own film for the studio, “Society Secrets” (1921). It was unsuccessful, and McCarey began to get discouraged again. In 1923, his luck changed when he was hired at Hal Roach Studios. He worked his way up from being a gag writer to becoming vice president of production for the entire studio two years later.
After writing gags for “Our Gang” and other stars, McCarey directed a number of shorts, including many with Charley Chase. It was also while at Hal Roach Studios that the director first paired together Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, creating one of the most famous and well loved comedy duos of all time. He officially directed their two-reelers “We Faw Down” (1928), “Liberty” (1929), and “Wrong Again” (1929). By 1929 McCarey was comfortable enough with his abilities as a director that he left Hal Roach Studios and began to work freelance.
He struggled on his first few full feature films, “The Sophomore” (1929), “Red Hot Rhythm” (1929), and “Wild Company” (1930), but found success with the Paramount musical “Let’s Go Native” (1930). In the same year he released the popular comedy “Part Time Wife” (1930), whose success prompted Gloria Swanson to approve McCarey to direct her film “Indiscreet” (1931). He next directed Eddie Cantor in “The Kid from Spain” (1932). After, he signed on with Paramount Pictures.
His first assignment at the studio was the Marx Brothers comedy “Duck Soup” (1933), which is often considered his most popular effort. McCarey then directed comedians W.C. Fields in “Six of a Kind” (1934) and Mae West in “Belle of the Nineties” (1934). The very successful romantic comedy “Ruggles of Red Gap” (1935) starring Charles Laughton, Mary Boland, Charlie Ruggles and Zasu Pitts, followed, with the Harold Lloyd vehicle “The Milky Way” (1936) trailing. His next feature, “Make Way for Tommorow” (1937), based off of Josephine Lawrence’s novel “The Years Are So Long”, turned into the director’s most personal. Director Orson Welles said of the film: “It would make a stone cry.” Although the picture about an aging couple was powerful and masterfully done, the picture failed to gain a following because of Paramount’s refusal to back it. Although it won favorable reviews, its failure at the box office caused the studio to fire McCarey.
He was quickly hired by Columbia to direct the third remake of “The Awful Truth” (1937).The Cary Grant, Irene Dunne screwball comedy was a huge success, earning McCarey an Oscar for Best Director. Writer/Director Peter Bogdanovich also attested to the merit of the film, saying “After the ‘Awful Truth’, when it came to light comedy, there was Cary Grant and then everyone else was an also-ran.” The director then signed a contract with RKO, making “Love Affair” (1939), which started as a comedy and turned into a melodrama.
In the 1940's McCarey’s films were more serious. He started with “Once Upon a Honeymoon” (1942) starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers, a comedy drama hybrid that dealt with the Nazis in pre World War II Europe. In 1944 he directed Bing Crosby in the seven time Academy Award winning “Going My Way”, about a singing Catholic priest starring Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald. He earned two Academy Awards for the film. The picture was also so lucrative that McCarey had the highest reported income in the U.S. the year of its release. Its sequel, “The Bells of St. Mary’s” (1945), shared a similar success; though it only took home one Oscar. “Good Sam” (1948), the director’s next film, revealed the tensions that exist between helping others and helping oneself. It also marked the beginning of McCarey’s decline.
After directing the documentary short “You Can Change the World” (1951), he made the darker anti-communist melodrama “My Son John” (1952). It was destroyed by critics and disappointed at the box office. However, the director’s following picture, “An Affair to Remember” (1957), brought him success once again. The Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr vehicle was a remake of his own “Love Affair”, and served as inspiration for the 1993 romantic comedy “Sleepless in Seattle” which starred tow time Academy Award winner for Best Actor Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. He followed the hit with the comedy “Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys!” (1958), starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. His final feature was the failed “Satan Never Sleeps” (1962), another anti-communist effort.
On July 5, 1969, in Santa Monica, California, Leo McCarey passed away from emphysema. The director has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his involvement in the motion picture industry.


1962       Satan Never Sleeps
1958       Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! 
1957       An Affair to Remember
1956       Lux Video Theatre 
1955       Screen Directors Playhouse 
1952       My Son John
1951       You Can Change the World 
1948       Good Sam
1945       The Bells of St. Mary's
1944       Going My Way
1942       Once Upon a Honeymoon 
1939       Love Affair
1938       The Cowboy and the Lady
1937       The Awful Truth
1937       Make Way for Tomorrow
1936       The Milky Way
1935       Ruggles of Red Gap
1934       Belle of the Nineties
1934       Six of a Kind
1933       Duck Soup
1932       The Kid from Spain
1931       Indiscreet 
1930       Part Time Wife
1930       Let's Go Native
1930       Wild Company
1929       Red Hot Rhythm 

1929       The Sophomore
1929       Dad's Day 
1929       Madame Q 
1929       The Unkissed Man 
1929       Big Business 
1929       Why Is a Plumber? 
1929       When Money Comes  

1929       Wrong Again 
1929       Liberty
1929       Going Ga-ga 
1929       Freed 'em and Weep
1928       We Faw Down 
1928       Feed 'em and Weep 
1928       Habeas Corpus 
1928       Do Gentlemen Snore? 
1928       That Night  

1928       Should Married Men Go Home? 
1928       Imagine My Embarrassment 
1928       Should Women Drive? 
1928       The Fight Pest 
1928       Tell It to the Judge 
1928       Blow by Blow
1928       Came the Dawn 
1928       The Finishing Touch 
1928       The Family Group 
1928       Pass the Gravy  
1927       Flaming Fathers 
1927       Us 
1927       The Way of All Pants 
1927       Should Second Husbands Come First? 
1927       What Every Iceman Knows 
1927       Sugar Daddies 
1927       Don't Tell Everything 
1927       Eve's Love Letters 
1927       Jewish Prudence 
1927       Why Girls Say No 
1927       Should Men Walk Home? 
1926       Be Your Age 
1926       Tell 'Em Nothing 
1926       Bromo and Juliet 
1926       Crazy Like a Fox 
1926       Mighty Like a Moose 
1926       Long Fliv the King 
1926       Mum's the Word
1926       Dog Shy 
1926       Mama Behave 
1926       Charley My Boy
1925       Looking for Sally 
1925       His Wooden Wedding 
1925       Hold Everything 
1925       The Uneasy Three 
1925       The Caretaker's Daughter 
1925       No Father to Guide Him 
1925       Innocent Husbands 
1925       Isn't Life Terrible? 
1925       What Price Goofy?  
1925       Big Red Riding Hood 
1925       Bad Boy 
1925       Is Marriage the Bunk? 
1925       Hard Boiled 
1925       Should Husbands Be Watched? 
1925       Plain and Fancy Girls 
1925       The Family Entrance  

1925       Fighting Fluid 
1925       Hello Baby! 
1925       The Rat's Knuckles
1924       The Royal Razz 
1924       The Poor Fish 
1924       Short Kilts
1924       All Wet 
1924       Accidental Accidents  

1924       Bungalow Boobs 
1924       Too Many Mammas 
1924       Sittin' Pretty 
1924       Outdoor Pajamas 
1924       Why Men Work   

1924       Sweet Daddy 
1924       Seeing Nellie Home  

1924       A Ten-Minute Egg 
1924       Why Husbands Go Mad 
1924       Jeffries Jr. 
1924       Stolen Goods 
1924       Young Oldfield 
1924       Publicity Pays
1921       Society Secrets
1921       No Woman Knows
1920       Outside the Law

1920       The Virgin of Stamboul

Matinee Classics - Going My Way starring Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh, James Brown, Gene Lockhart, Rise Stevens, Jean Heather, Porter Hall, Fortunio Bonanova, Eily Malyon, Stanley Clements and Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer
Matinee Classics - Going My Way starring Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Frank McHugh, James Brown, Gene Lockhart, Rise Stevens, Jean Heather, Porter Hall, Fortunio Bonanova, Eily Malyon, Stanley Clements and Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer
Matinee Classics - My Son John starring Helen Hayes, Van Heflin, Dean Jagger, Robert Walker, Minor Watson, Frank McHugh, Richard Jaeckel, James Young, Todd Karns, Fred Sweeney, Douglas Evans and Jimmie Dundee
Matinee Classics - Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Joan Collins, Jack Carson, Tuesday Weld, Dwayne Hickman, Gale Gordon, Tom Gilson, O.Z. Whitehead, Robert Banas, Billy Benedict, Robert Bohanan, Tap Canutt, Alan Carney and Richard Collier

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